7-24. Relieved early --- 6 A.M. by member of a French section relieving 641.
Hurried to camp & loaded up. Section took 4 hours to pack up & light up. Block away. Lt. Roberts knows nothing of moving & Phelan gets excited. A disgrace to the section to take so long!
Arrived at Vavincourt after a racing convoy over good roads in which we left the staff car behind.
Drove thru a terrible rain & got soaking wet.
7-25, Vavincourt --- about an hours ride from Bar [le Duc] a little over the usual sized village. Water pronounced absolute "defendu." Beer holds sway but the Bar-le-Duc beer is much poorer than that of St. Mihiel.
Lt. gives notice that all dogs must go. Not much to do except talk to a few of the French maidens & buy their beer.
7-26. Lt. Forces us to bathe. Walk two miles in a drizzling rain. Good bath but rained hard coming back so got soaking wet.
New Expression :
"You get your meals"
You get paid, your lodging, your clothing, ect. & besides all that you get your meals!
7-27. Lt. informs us for the 18th time how to run in convoy. If he wouldn't say so much, we might help him. As it is we run races all over the road. I nearly telescoped a staff car with a colonel in it.
7-28. Left Vavincourt for Meaux. Started at 6 A.M. & drove 12 straight hours --- stopping for lunch.
Cantoned outside Meaus for the night.
Ran thru Bar-le-Duc, St. Dizier, Vitry-le-Francois, Fire Champenoise, Sezanne, Estenay, La Ferté, Coulommiers, Nanteuil-les-Meaux.
Stayed over night at Nanteuil. No revitaillment --- scratch for ourselves. Lt's fault
7-29. Had lunch in Meaux about 10:30. Started at 11 A.M. Went over terrible roads called "paved roads". Constructed of cobble stones placed far apart. Result; One broken axle, one rear wheel came off, one front spring & numerous punctures. Also Packard's Ford caught on fire! First time in history as far as I know. The White was close by so wisely used it's Pyrene!
We have traveled north to Bethisy St. Martin.
Terribly dull village. Nothing to drink
|Note: The maps that SMK marked don't show the route that was taken to travel from Meaux to Bethisy St. Martin. He did make a note on the key to the "Gruppe I" maps " Meaux to Nanteuil" The maps shows and estimated route taken to Nanteuil.. Map #33C indicates the roads taken from Nanteuil to Bethisy St. Martin. Some loose pictures indicated the one above and a few others were taken near May en Multien. May-en-Multien was not mentioned in the diaries.|
7-30. Troops going to the front by the thousands. Our whole division went thru in camions.
Continuous line of large camions from noon 'till 2 A.M. Going fast, too.
Things beginning to get exciting.
7-31. Signed pay-roll. Trucks still going thru.
A member of our divisional staff tells Max an attack from Montdidier to Reims by the Allies is about to come off.
Anxious to get into action.
Lt. still blowing his whistle! Has a mania for blowing his whistle & have us gather around him.
More convoy instructions.
Our Lt. entirely under the thumb of the "meat hound" a snipe of a French Lt who in commander of automobiles in 17th Division. He should give us ordre-de-mouvements but no more.
8-1. We move to Viviers thru Villers Cotteret.
Three other ambulance sections in Viviers
Five of us fix up fine quarters in the attic. Lace curtains, stove, writing desk ect.
Guard duty for cars, mechanics shop & tires.
German planes flew over but no bombs fell near us.
8-2. Ammonia gives us the once over and says "you are too comfortable here, you aint supposed to be comfortable in the army, We'll move tonight". Those were his exact words and we moved, too. Left kitchen trailer --- too heavy.
Went to Villers Cotteret & from there to Vierzy.
8-3. En route to Vierzy the Lt. lost the road. He wouldn't take the advice of our marshall "Dalogi Eddie" who knows all about the roads & convoys. So we ate lunch --- coffee & cold meats --- on the road at a point marking the furthest advance of the German on V. C. [Villers Cotterets]. Started for Vierzy, reached it about 3 P.M. & we were supposed to be there at 9 A.M.
Twelve cars left for the poste immediately. I am number 12.
Eight cars needed so we slept at Ambrief (the poste) all night. The Bosche had left in a hurry the night before! Beaucoup souvenirs.
8-4. En route to Ambrief yesterday we passed at least 50 dead horses, 15or 20 dead soldiers, mostly Americans & about 8 tanks. The horses & men had been killed two or three days before but the Allies were in too much of a hurry to bury them. A terrible stench they made.
The tanks were all charred and blown to pieces.
A call to the front poste this noon. To a farm. A cave construction 4 kilometres beyond Searches (Searches sur Vesle). In plain view of Germans. Road pretty badly cut up. Soissons can be seen.
Evacuation clear to V. C., a 40 kilometre trip --- 80 round trip.
August 5. No entry.
8-6. Another trip to Ambrief. Five maladies already there. Returned immediately to triage at Vierzy & relieved by relay car from camp.
Triage in large cave. Terribly steep road leading to entrance. Made it but once. This time maladies had to ascend on foot --- carried their packs.
Lt. took tables from us saying they were a luxury. So we git in line & eat anywhere possible!
Starts 5 O'clock (P.M.) roll call.
8-7. Most all our trips are at night --- rather thrilling & very tiresome. Nevertheless --- all who get in camp before or at midnight must be present at roll call in full uniform at 7:40 A.M. those who come in later may sleep 'till 9:30 but are not permitted to have breakfast.
Pinard run over by truck --- had to be shot. Blackie given away. Chappell gets his transfer to balloon service & goes to Paris.
8-8. Oiled, greased & gasolined car.
Lt. orders all cars washed inside & out notwithstanding there is only one "dry" pump in town! Impossible to obey order!
Lt tells Gano it is "defendu" to read in bed & orders all blankets rolled every morning.
P.S. of 90th --- abandoned by 90th - & being used by engineers, was blown all to pieces. 300 men killed. A large cave, it was. Germans left electric apparatus --- contact wires. Somebody formed the circuit with his foot. Was these the 6th, too!
8-9. On duty again at Ambrief.
Trip to Serches. Not much shelling but enough to make it unpleasant.
Old gas noticeable. Makes the eves water & cough slightly (not the eyes). Evacuation to Vierzy. Back to Ambrief. Rode out to Serches with Hansen to show him the road --- and test my nerve. Serches under fire. Made trip O.K. except for a puncture.
Had good nights sleep in G.B.D. A cave the same as one blown up at Serches. Rather nervous before sleeping.
8-10. On duty yet. Division to move tomorrow morning.
Two trips to Ecuiry & one to Vierzy.
Lt. here. Thinks he can work a better system --- stays in cave all the time.
Ambrief has been the recipient of a half dozen shells a day. Fell in court yard last night.
Relieved by other section.
8-11. All packed up & ready to move
Took walk over Chaudun Plateau where heaviest fighting took place in wheat fields. Saw 8 baby tanks that had been blown to pieces. One contained the remains of a human being --- a charred spinal column. A dozen or so dead U.S. soldiers rotting in the sun!
A dead fly-eaten horse with the saddle still attached. Bosche helmet, guns litters ect. Torn machine gun emplacements where hand to hand fighting had taken place.
8-12. Left Vierzy at 7. Got up at 4:30! Very much traffic --- 17th division going "out" Went thru Longpont, Corcy, Fleury and stopped at Villers Cotterets for the night. Cantoned in an actor's chateau. Running water, bathtub, ect. And a wonderful kitchen with a stove & ovens running whole length --- about 20 feet. Beautiful bed rooms.
Lt. still working us hard with no-essentials. Car hasn't been touched.
8-13. Packed up & left our Deluxe quarters. Think "Ammonia" thought we were too well cantoned. Left about seven & had a fairly good run until noon. Stopped at Retheuil and made our quarters here. Revitaillement hasn't been sent for in three days so we are eating rather low. Ham & potatoes. Evacuation trip with Honig in camion to Bonneiul-en-Valois to Haromont to Villers Cotterete. Rough trip. Honig new at camion. We bounced all over the road.
Letter from Mother --- July 17th.
8-14. No revitaillment yet. Potatoes low. Bad meat. That is all.
Lt. makes us pick up all trash --- even to cigarette stubs. He pays no attention to cars though they should all be gone over after continuous work at Vierzy and the rough convoy from Vierzy to Retheuil.
Lt. tells us any one having a light at night shall be court marshaled! He says he don't care if any of us wish to commit suicide but if we committed murder too, we should be court marshaled!
Our dead bodies, I suppose.
8-15. Avions overhead last night. Dropped bombs all around us. At Villers Cotterete, Pierrefonds & other towns. 16 people killed in Pierrefonds --- 3 kilometres north. A sight worth watching from our safe camp on the outskirts of Retheuil. Heavy anti-aircraft barrage. Many machine guns with their chaser bullets & a dozen or so very strong searchlights.
The Lt. still innocent of being kidded by the bunch.
"Gas Sir" for Yes Sir. We yell all his famous commands in his own scratchy voice so he hears us easily --- yet he does nothing.
Some of his famous commands:
"Git off the road" --- En convoy.
"Gimme that" --- Snatched magazine from Garvin.
"What's that?" --- Pointing to victrola!
"Gas!" --- In mask practice.
"Take that smile off your face!" --- Then --- "Look pleasant" --- In line.
8-16. 4 new men arrive.
Avions over again last night. About six.
Repitition of preceding night.
Lt. not bothering us so much now. Roll cat at 7:40 A.M * 5 P.M.
Potatoes nix. Carrots for both meals. --- Very poor meat. No bread today
8-17. Still no revitailment. The Lt. sent for it yesterday at 10 A.M.! Supposed to be at the station at seven! Nothing left but bread. [The station was probably at Villers Cotteretes]
The Lt's fault. He should have sent for supplies from Villers Cotterets when were very low.
Avions over again last night.
Shrapnel & machine gun bullets fall all around us.
Feeling rather ill. Nearly fainted at 5 o'clock roll call. Very dizzy & weak.
Slept in car 5 (evenings). Have slept in open until tonight.
8-18. Spent fine night. Still weak. Up at 6:30. Had coffee & grape fruit, Marmalade! No roll call
Our division --- 17th --- supposed to attack near Attichy as soon as Lassigny is taken.
Rumored we go on repose in few days. Evidently our objective is useless or we shall try another place. Our division is unattached so we may go anywhere.
Hasn't rained for two weeks.
Mail! 2 S. E. Postes. Letter from home --- July 22, Ted July 15, Sunny July 20.
8-19. Left for Cuise la Motte at 11 A.M. Ten kilometres north. We go thru Pierrefond and I saw one of the largest Chateaus in France there. --- built by Napoleon. Wonderful magestic castle. At Cuise la Motte we cleaned out a terribly dirty house & store for our cantonement. Took the section of 40 men a couple of hours. Owner comes around & bewails his losses as if he were the only war victim. Kitchen unloaded & loaded again after dinner.
Saw 2000 Bosche prisoners in a cage.
Orders to pack up & be ready to move in the night!
8-20. We start at 3 A.M. Go north to Compiegne-Soissons road, turn left for a kilometer, turn right (vice versa with those turns) cross the Aisne [river], passed thru Attiche & stopped at a farm 3 kilometres beyond just as it was getting light. The run up was a terrible strain for it is hard to keep convoy in the dark & it was pitch dark! We telescoped each other at every turn. Beaucoup revitaillment & large guns were on the road. The traffic was intense. Had breakfast & lunch & moved from the farm
And here I loose my bearings. I know not where we go. I know we are ahead of our infantry & following the Bosche retreat closely.
8-21. Pass thru several villages which underwent violent bombardment a half hour before our arrival --- according to Gend'armes. The roads are the more jammed than I have ever seen any roads. We move about 10 feet every 5 minutes --- and absolute fact. We have terrible time getting up a certain hill. All non-drivers have to push the cars to help. Have cold supper & move on under a glorious moon. The staff car leaves us & we get lost. Wait on the road an [hour] before they found us. Many avions overhead --- bombing --- machine gunning the roads.
8-22. We slept? In Sacy last night. The Lt. was not around to tell us where our cantonement would be. We were all settled when he came around & forced us to change places. Not withstanding we had no sleep for 2 days & nights. Early morning --- 8 --- we move again to a clump of woods outside Vic-sur-Aisne. I go for water to Vic in my car --- go twice. A heavy job too. Came back & all fellows had gone swimming but had to stay in camp.
Heavy cannonading heard the last 2 days & nights. Moved again about 15 Kilometres north to Morsain!
8-23. Unloaded all baggage on cars & camion (night of 22nd). Four cars go on duty immediately. Guns coming in our camp --- moved across the road. By this time one may easily understand we were tired completely out. Moving means unloading & loading 20 cars, the mechanics shop, the kitchen 7 camion! Only the excitement of action kept us going. Rest of cars called out by 11 P.M. All 20 cars running & evacuating clear to Villers Cotterets. Postes at Vaux & Vassins. French advancing on left quite rapidly. It's terrible driving in such heavy traffic with many avions mitrailleusing the road & bombing it! Many are killed that way.
8-24. Still running! Getting very, very tired. Takes 6 to 10 hours for a round trip to Villers [Cotterets].
Traffic still heavy
Fighting fatigue. Hard to keep awake while driving. Things not going right on our right. Our division is swung over so we change our pastes. Next trip to Ferme St. Leger. We go there en convoy of 15 cars. Roads being shelled slightly with high explosives. Bombardment can be seen on trenches 3 kilometres away.
A French section doing our evacuation from G.B.D. at Marsain to Villers. We work just as hard but it's all front work.
8-25. Ran all night last night. The greatest temptation I ever had was to sneak off in the forests of Villers & go to sleep. It is an absolute fact that I fell asleep 8 or more times on the road. I wake up with a start --- just in time to dodge a truck! My lids can not be held open. Water, whiskey, coffee nor anything will not keep me awake.
But still running. Others going thru same thing.
Fell asleep at poste & slept for 4 hours. What a luxury. No Blankets --- just on bare floor.
8-26. Went to furthest advance poste of 90th --- to right at crossroads. A huge crater in center of road. Large as the car and four bumps at bottom. Got over it safely out & took on 3 couches & one assis at poste. Coming back I couldn't go fast with couches so got stuck in hole. Ran 300 yards back to poste for 4 bronchardiers. Shelling a little. They pushed me out O.K. Shelling grew more intense so I put on more gas. Ran into a man. Didn't hurt him. Then I tore down a telephone wire! Shelling Ferme Loise heavy. Went around corner there on 2 wheels. Had dirt splashed over me & car from shell.
8-27. Got some sleep last night.
August 28 to September 4 No entries. [This might have been one of the" on permission" times to Aix le Bains.]
9-5. On duty at the 68th at Bonne Maison. Went on at 6:30 P.M. It sure is a Bonne Maison now. Not an arrive. Not even any departs. The heavy artillery has moved up ahead about five kilometres. There are five observation balloons ahead of us. One is nearly eight kilometres away and the line are five from it.
9-6. This farm is badly shot up. I can see where a line of shells landed when I was here last time --- I did not take the time to look then! M. Bonnis has returned here from permission. Of the 68th poste de secours men, I like him best. Though all are fine men.
Very hot all day! Took in 2 blesses & 2 malades.
Beaucoup avions over head. Dropped bombs very close. Kept us running for the trench 'till midnight.
9-7. Three more days 'till Spears returns!
Gave engine a thorough cleaning. Likewise the springs and all moving parts. The first time in a month.
Took a special call to Villers at 3 P.M. Stopped in Vic-sur-Aisne both ways to buy cigarettes & crackers at commissary & Y.M.C.A. Didn't get back 'till 7:30 A.M.
On duty again to save trouble of cleaning motor twice!! At St. Leger. 335th. Very dark. In "low" all the way.
A fair nights sleep in the cave.
9-8. Thought I was sent to 90th so went out "scouting" for them as they are not in cave. Made 2 trips --- joy rides --- to 68th at a new farm 5 kilometres out. Wonderful morning for driving! Came back to find 385 in another cave at St. Leger.
Raining "off & on". Windy & rather cold from 9 o'clock on.
Copa opened. Bought candles.
335th nice bunch.
Relieved by Conant at seven thirty P.M.
Rained all day.
9-9. Big mail came in today but I didn't get a letter. Where are all my friends?
Took a good bath in a near by brook.
Am severely bitten. Whether it is "gall", "blood" or "seven year itch" I don't know. Sure it is not cooties.
Not much sleep last night on account of it.
Rained nearly all day.
Our division moved up again to the lines.
Fellows report heavy artillery dueling and poor roads.
9-10. King opens up with "Aw Right" His only command. What he wishes done we have to guess.
We pack up in a heavy rainstorm & each car departs as it is loaded with orders to go to Vezaponin. After driving around Vez and near by villages we finally locate the section.
Find cellars for cantonement. Five men to a cellar. Ours is rather dirty but are too tired to clean it up after unloading.
Spears due back today.
9-11. After breakfast I with Drex, report to hospital concerning my "itch" Have slept but little in 3 nights. G.B.D. Don't know what it is but advises a hot bath & a change of underwear. Arrange for bath --- showers --- for 3 P.M.
Tankers slept in our cave last night --- say German large tanks are no good. They are too slow and bulky.
Had good hot shower and applied salve that smarted like mustard. Feeling better however.
Slept a little.
9-12. Kicked out of our cave by a French Lt. Going to make a gas chamber.
Hunted in the rain for another cave --- unsuccessful. Very chilly.
After freezing till 3 P.M. we finally moved back to cave --- wont be ready for gas for 2 days.
A little sunshine --- 2 hours --- this afternoon.
We ate my last can of reserve salmon I bought at the Co pa.
Spent a good night. Don't know why King does not send me to the front!
9-13. Houston, Max, Manger & myself moved to another & better cave. I work hard putting up a hanger for my stretcher. Max is sick --- the other two re on detail.
Still hoping for Spears return. Soir:
Went over to Foxy's cave and partook of toast, jam & butter & coffee. Avions over head. Dropped only seven bombs.
Go back to our cave for a good nights rest.
Manger sick now.
Letter from Edna Moore.
9-14. Awakened at 5:30 A.M. Whole section moves up to Ferme --- Mont de Couve. Just the cars --- no baggage.
Went to poste G. B. D. at Bonne Pierre at 10:30. Traveled Soisson --- Coucy le Chateau road. See Coucy about 2 kilometres further on (22D)--- in French hands.
Go to advance poste beyond Neuilly --- 335th. (Neuilly? --- Leuilly?)
See trenches in distance --- next hill (Mont des Tombes). Take 3 couches in at 3 P.M. Not much shelling. Road in view of Bosche.
Return to Bonne Pierre. Spent cold night there with out blankets.
Letter from Creighton.
9-15. Up at 6. Couldn't sleep. Call at 7 for 335th. Shelling Neuilly with gas. Got thru safely --- only quick heart action!
Repose tomorrow they seem to think.
Priest ring little bell & holds church for 4 or 5 in abri. First realization of Sunday in months.
Relieved at 5 o'clock by Honig & Houston.
Gano & I go in with 2 assis each. Crossroads at Soisson joint being shelled. I (orsaken) Bosche ammunition depot hit and doing damage. We drive thru it O.K.
Go to Vezaponin
9-16. Wonderful sleep in Vezaponin. Got letters last night. Mothers, H.A. & Sunny.
Wrote home. Called out at one o'clock. --- Gee! I thought I was thru for good. Called to Bonne Pierre about six. Not much shelling.
Division goes out tonight & we go at six in the morning. Called to 90th poste Senilly. Boucoup gas. No shelling. Meet part of division en route. Max at poste.
Poor nights sleep. Abri crowded so no place to lie down.
9-17. Relieved by G.B.D. of relief division. Max couldn't get his motor started --- coils wet. I took in four maladies & the L'aumoniers of the 90th.
No shelling --- thank heaven. Deposited maladies at Ferme Monte Couve and took L'aumonier and four bronchardiers to Vezaponin.
Packed up immediately --- had lunch & left for our old camp ground near Morsain. Slept in cars which are filled with baggage.
Rained during the night but feeling fine facing repose.
God! I never want to go thru such Hell again!
9-18. Rotten cripe (rumor?) floating around. Say we go en repose for ten days till the division is reformed then go back into the lines immediately.
More cripe. "We'll be attached to another division and go to work in two days." Sure is heart rendering cripe.
9-19. Up at six and started for repose. Meet the "meat hound" Lt. who holds us in woods till 10:30. Reason unknown. A cad thru-out.
Went thru Vic sur Aisne, Attichy, Pierrfond, Nanteuill and arrived at Dammartin about three P.M.
Quite a thrill passing en convoy thru the village and getting a glimpse of all the stores, cafes, civilians ect.
Fine cantonement. Cars unloaded & kitchen set up.
Took a walk thru the village. Great temptation to get "canned" as all sorts of liquors are sold here. Benedictine, Curacao, Triple Sec, Cherry brandy, Rum, Champagne ect.
Good nights rest.
September 20, 21, 22, and 23. No entries.
9-24. The 20th, 21, 22 & 23 I worked on my car from 8A.M. to 5 P.M. Washing it, cleaned it, greased & oiled it, changed bands and other things to [sic] numerous to mention.
Getting ready for permission. Saw but little of the town of Dammartin.
Used the last of Aunt Jemima's Pancake flower [sic] for breakfast.
After such work I forgot all about the front.
Max has healed ear.
9-25. At Dammartin. - Cars inspected for permmissionaires. King says I did a good job.
Get permission papers and drove to St. Mard to entrain.
Foxy, Kaiser, Max & myself left for gay Paris at 11:30, arriving in Paris about 12:30. Engaged room at Mirabeau. Pass reads for 2 P.M. M.P.'s have too good a system to dodge. Lunch at Mirabeau. 11 fr. Get baggage from Am Express & Continental Hotel moved to Mirabeau. Baggage bill 50 Francs. Assi!
Get pass changed to 8:30 at Blvd L'Opital.
Dined at Lucas off the Madelaine. Wonderful meal for 25 francs! ($5.00)!
Catch metro on Rivoli & went to Gare d Lyon.
Train left 8:45 for Aix.
9-26. Arrive in Lyon at 7:30 A.M Just missed connections for Aix. Had a second class compartment all to ourselves after Dijon.
Prominaded around Lyon --- walked across Pont Wilson.
Lunched at inexpensive café --- 6 Fr.
Left Lyon 4:30. Met 3 charming girls on train. One spoke English. Father a colonel in Mangin's 10th Army. Road [sic] but a half hour & got off. Great to talk to decent, girls! Arrived in Colon about 10:30. Changed trains & started for Aix arriving 11:30. Registered and put up at Beau-Sejous. About a 3rd class hotel and a terrible come down from the Splendide.
9-27. Breakfast in bed. Moral rather low because we didn't draw Splendide. Can't put on "dog" now.
Not quite enough l'argen to pay our own bill at either Mirabeau or splendide. 25 & 39 Frs. respectively per day with meals!
Down to Y.M.C.A. None of the old crew there. Mrs. Anderson in Paris. Morale down 10 more points.
Meet Kais. & Foxy. Their at same hotel.
Spent most of evening in Splendide bar & the Mirabeau.
9-28. Breakfast in bed. Up at 9:30. down to tennis club with Fox & Kaiser. Trim Foxy 6-1 but Kais. lays me 6-4. Great to be in tennis shoes. Oh Boy. Lunch at club. Rather sporty place. Something like Wanango --- better --- the building, of course. Cost 17 Fr apiece. Melon, fish, bacon & eggs, veal, French fries, salad, chocolate, grapes, peaches, coffee, cigarettes & a brandy fizz.
Bicycle ride! Never again. 'Tisn't dignified! Oh, Boy 7 just fresh from the front.
Dinner at Mirabeau. Fox, Kais & Pollen engage rooms there.
Home to our dug-out for the night!!
9-29. Every time Max & I come near the Beau-Sijour our morale drops. The food is worse than that of Child's Resturaunt. The beds are better than the bronchards we use at the front --- but not much better. Gee! And the last time we stayed at the Splendide.
Must brace up and take what comes.
Fine day --- tout le jour.
Ice Cream at the Marlborough Tea Room --- is popular. Have stopped drinking liquor.
Milk my old standby!!!!
9-30. Raining hard this morning, so no tennis. In bed 'till noon.
Rained all afternoon. Dance at Y.M.C.A. with American band.
Dined --- Max & I --- at Splendide. All the old waiters remember us. Waitresses, too. Head waiter has quite a talk.
Fine meal & well worth 15 Fr. Apiece. Finished about nine.
Drank hot milk all evening at Y.M.C.A. What am I coming to?
Wrote Jo Heathcote.
10-1. In bed until noon. Breakfast in bed.
Partook of ice cream at Marlborough Tea Rooms & spent afternoon writing to Sunny.
Rather chilly all day
Did absolutely nothing. Rested & drank milk all day
Had a "hours round" at the Splendide.
10-2. Wrote Mother again.
Max & I walked to the Tennis Club and partook of a "mild one".
Encore on the rest.
Feeling much better --- in fine health.
Met "Fountain Pen Auto" at the Splendide. Rare youth --- immediately chased my caffard away.
10-3. Mrs. Anderson tells the fellows she wishes to see me!
10-4. Mrs. Anderson gave a luncheon for Kaiser, Fox, Pallen (645), Rose and myself at L'Europe Hotel. --- Wonderful lady.
Registered out at 1:30. Drank coffee ect 'till 5 P.M. Bought a 5 franc packed lunch at Y. and departed at 6:45 with Louie, Pallen, & another chap whose section was at Dunkirk. Change trains at Culoz --- leave the local for Lyon & catch express for Paris at 12 M. Express jam full so we have to stand in corridor all night. I sat on my suit case.
Rather cold riding.
10-5. Lady in train passes out some wonderful grapes.
Arrive in Paris 11 A.M. Lunch at Y.M.C.A leaves me without a sous and Max with but one franc.
Sure feel at home in Paris. Three permissions and all have ended the same --- broke in Paris.
I bum dinner off a Y.M.C.A. man --- promising Max to steal some bread off the table. Max has 5 10 centime coffees at a joint.
Leave Gare du Nord at 8:20 after having another good fill meal at Red Cross in station. Arrive in St. Mard at 9:40 & catch camion for Dammartin. Saw Spears in office & sure in fine to have him back.
October 6, through 12 --- No entry.
10-13. Had breakfast and an early lunch in Ach. & pulled out for Jouy --- south of the Chemin de Dame.
10-14. Had breakfast & lunch in Jouy.
October 15 through 20 --- No entry.
10-21. On duty --- Malade evacuation --- at Urcel. Evacuate to Vasseny near Braine Pass thru Chavignon, Jouy, Vailly, Chassermy.
October 22 --- No entry
10-23. Section moved to Chavignon but Paul & I remain on duty at Urcel
10-24. Paul & I follow division to La Montagne passing thru Laon. La Montagne is Generals headquarters also of Medecin Divisionaire. We have a trip to Pont Archer --- other side of Soissons. Had 3 punctures and took 12 hours for the trip --- going in a round about way on good roads.
10-25. Meet section at Besny & Cerny. [Besny et Loisy and Bucy les Cerny]
Move to Aulnois.
Move back to Besny et Loisy. Cantoned there.
Have a trip to Laon.
Laon in good condition except near railroad station.
90th wearing their "fouragere".
10-26. Call at night 8 P.M. for front. Six cars in convoy --- go thru traffic like a "dose". No shelling.
Two battalions of 68th on of 335th and whole nigger "Sinagilay" outfit in line. Heavy fighting. Having hard time crossing branch of Serre. Succeeded.
10-27. Trenches are bombarded terrificly [sic]. All artillery concentrated on them. --- Reason why there is so little bombardment in rear.
10-28. On duty at an artillarie poste in Barenton Bugny. The camion have been moved from town so there is no shelling.
Many civilians are here reclaiming their old homes. Most of the houses are in good condition but there is nothing left in them.
Received mandolin box sent June 13.
Bombarded village. One lady --- G.B.D. had lunch with her --- didn't "bat an eye" at shell. Another started to cry.
10-29. Had one call yesterday at noon. Haven't moved since. Fine warm weather. French gun moved out of town so Bosche shell here no more. Anxious to get in camp & get at my mandolin.
Lots of vegetables here. Gardens are full and undamaged. We get quite a lot from here for ourselves.
French avions up all night in great numbers bombarding Bosche trenches. A few Bosche avions over head.
10-30. A call at 9:30
Got my mandolin out when I reached camp. It's a beauty.
Changed bands and worked on car till 4:30
Called to the front at 5. Crosby shows me the way going like a bat out of Hell to beat darkness. When we arrive at Verneuil my belt is off, my spark arm is disconnected & my low is useless. Not shelling tho nervous as Crosby's exciting ways are catchable.
Trip to Maison Rouge! Just a house by the side of a road. Cave occupied by Colonel & staff so no room in it.
10-31. Getting a lot of enjoyment from mandolin.
Sit by fire while shell fall thickly very close. Whistling éclat goes by in a hurry. No protection what ever! Avions --- Bosche --- up & doing damage. Terrible helpless feeling but took it calmly. Blesse, couche comes in at midnight. Blesse for 3 days. Ran on 3 cylinders to Verneuil & stayed the night there under same conditions. Rogers takes couche in.
In camp at 8 A.M. Clean up & have a trip to Laon for mail at R.V.F. 17. Leave laundry. Pick up old lady & carry her to Aulnois. She claims the Bosche are barbarians! On duty again at Verneuil at 6 P.M. No shelling Flare in distance tell of a further Bosche retreat --- burning villages.
(From Crosby Letter October 31, 1918. "........."Kep" has just got his mandolin from the States. He's a keen player --- his feature being the "Blues". Swank stuff.........."
11-1. Verneuil sur Terre is practically untouched but the French put heavy batteries in town and are consequently the cause of much destruction by Bosche shell. Poor system. Italians took 39.000 prisoners yesterday.
11-2. Austria capitulates
Armistice signed. Bosche retreat a little before the Americans.
Swassey wounded at Maison Rouge. Eclat made clean hole thru calf of his leg. May limp for life.
Evacuated to Pont Archer.
Spears tells us he got a divisional citation --- individual - for Swassey. Which means a Croix with a palm.
Rumored we shall draw an Army citation --- the highest. We already have the divisional. Would mean a star & palm on each car.
11-3. On duty at Barenton-Bugny once again. Very lucky.
Brought mandolin with me and created quite a sensation among the bronchardiers and a old man civilian.
Good nights rest.
11-4. After a good lunch at B.Bugny, trip to Besny with maladies.
Laundry from Hotel Beau-Sijour in Aix arrived. Have a habit of leaving laundry every place I go.
The spiders are feasting on me the last few days --- spiders --- not cooties. Took a cold bath in a basin & changed under ware. But spiders are evidently in blankets.
Another good nights sleep in camp.
11-5. Called at 8 o'clock for Verneuil-sur-Serre. News the Borsche have retreated during last night to Marle.
Have one trip to camp and find the section packed and nearly ready to move. Am sent to front again. Glad! Don't have to load & unload!
"Eddie" picks barn in V. for cantonement!
3 o'clock Spaulding, Gano, P. Battles & myself head for Flaumont. Pass a poor night in cave.
Battles goes beyond Marle with Medcine Chef of 68th.
No revitallement for us --- none for G.B.D. Eating bread & coffee.
11-6. Awakened at 5 A.M., enroute for Marle at 6:30 with bronchardiers & their baggage. Section in Verneuil, I believe.
P. Battles went thru here at night so wasn't seen. We were! The first Americans in Marle!! What a reception! People waved their hands; men tipped their hats.
Civilians went wild when French marched thru 10 hours before us. Girls embraced the soldiers --- even Sinalgalese. We had quite a crowd around us.
A little girl comes running out of house as we promenade, and offers us coffee --- she has coffee pot in hand. We Took it, too.
The civilians say they were overjoyed when they heard French shells sailing over. They say the Bosche's morale is the lowest and admit their own fate. The Bosche regime here was terribly strict & the civils liken their four years with the Bosche to 4 yrs. Of prison.
Run out to La Tombelle relieving P. Battles.
Back again to Marle & relieved by Max.
11-7. Section in Marle last night.
Walked around the village. Fearing located storeroom of German maps --- thousands of them. Got a set.
Rose got across the river yesterday & started to return later but found the road impassible. Is stuck near Cilly. The first American on the other side of the river by Marle & the first automobile . I was second --- went over to see him.
Beaucoup souvenirs here but havn't the patience to look for them.
Enjoying mandolin much --- everyone is.
11-8. Orders to move up. Up at 7"30. Moved at eleven for Harciny.
Our division has taken all the towns around here. Marle, Cilly Montigny, Lugny, Bosmont, Hary, Bosmont, Leuze and were relieved at the village 3 kilometres north of Leuze.
Being the first Americans in this part, our section is heartily welcomed by the civils.
11-9. At noon 4 cars go on duty just across the river from Leuze as the bridge is blown up & impossible. There are many branches of rivers here and the Bosche covered their retreat well by blowing all the bridges & mining the roads.
November 10 No Entry
11-11. Up at 6 --- had a trip to Marle with nine other cars --- hauling 5 assis --- negers --- with trench feet.
Return at 11:30 --- just missed impressive review of 17th division by Gen. Gassoun and kissing of flag. Hostilities stop at 11 A.M. But we are still hauling maladies. Trip to Besmont. Another to Marle.
Running at about 40 per on return when reverse band breaks & puts me on pan for good.
Hansen back of me tells them at camp & they bring my supper & blankets.
(Note: The review was described by Harry Crosby in a letter to his sister on November 19, 1918. "------ The General held a review of his Division and asked us to attend. He put us right behind the band. Our bunch looked like a small flea in comparison with the whole division. General ..... then read out the citations of the various regiments, etc. Then he pinned a Croix de Guerre on our section flag and read our citation (a divisional one). Ma asked for it --- so here it is. Each member of the section gets one.
" Le General Gassouin, commandant la 17e Devision d'Infantrie, cite à L'ordre de la Division la Section Sanitaire Américane (S.S.U. 641) de la 17e D.I."
"Dédaignant le danger, sans souci de la Fatigue, a poursuivi sans arrêt, trios jours Durant (23, 24, 25 Août 1928 (sic 1918) l'évacuation des blesses à travers des zones violemment bombardées. A été superbe d'entrain, de dévouement, de volonté, jusqu' au bout."
Au Q.G., le 27 Août 1918. Le Général Gassouin
Commandant la 17e D.I.
11-12. Awakened this A.M. by Ben Weeden en route to Marle.
Got up & chased soup kitchens along the road & got hot coffee. Have got three so far. Band playing in Hary with Bugles.
11-13. Jerry, Jake, Garber & myself change motor. Heavy job. Hard work getting new one started --- pushed it up & down a hill so as to be able to crank it
Left me rather weak.
Arrived in Verniuel at 7:30. section here.
11-14. Trip to Laon to Parc 9. Took in old motor & returned with barrel of oil.
Also found 17th div. Copa & bought cheese, chocolate, pate', wine & jam.
Returning too late for dinner. I ate everything I bought. The conglomeration had no immediate effects.
11-15. Feeling very weak. Slight head ache.
Sections moves to Bucy les Cerny. I drive my car
Upon arriving I go to bed too sick to eat or stay up. Delirious most of night & high fever.
11-16. Section going to Anizy les Chateau at noon. Am taken to hospital in Loan by Gano as couche'.
Put to bed immediately --- temperature 37.2
Feel fine in a soft bed. But realize I am weak when I got up several times.
11-17. Slept well last night. Temperature 37.5
Am terribly constipated but they have given me no medicine for it yet.
Eat soup, cabbage & thinned condensed milk. Only coffee or lait in the morning. Read a little
First cloudy day in 12.
11-18. Slept poorly last night. Temperature 37 flat.
Sun shining again this morning. Yesterday they put glasses on my back. Put a torch in the tumbler then stick it quickly on my back. The skin inside the edges blows up round, about _" to an inch high & very red. Does not pain.
Told Doc I have constipation. Give me dope this afternoon.
Snowed at 1:15 kept up till 2:30. Just a light snow but looks fine.
Can think of 1000 dishes I'll have when I reach home.
11-19. I worried about time till the chap in the next bed put his watch on the table --- now time goes slow
One Bosche helper spied my cigarettes so gives me double rations --- but nothing doing! They didn't think of the civils. Feel entirely well today. Going to get solid food.
Sun shining. Temperature 36.2.
Last night I couldn't sleep thinking of good things to eat! I'll get them in Paris soon.
Played mandolin in evening. Talked a lot with a young Frenchy who is studying mining engineering in Paris.
11-20. Didn't get out of bed 'till 9:30. Doctor says I may go back to my section in two or three days --- but I'll hit Paris first.
Very fogy today & looks quite cold outside.
Expect to be discharged sat. A.M. 2 o'clock to catch 4 A.M. train to Paris --- but will lay off a day in Villers Cotterets.
Leave hospital with twenty others --- transferred to another quarter mile away.
Take it decently but hate to get up out of comfortable bed. Left after dark about 6:30 P.M.
Colored soldier --- American in new hospital --- the L'yse'.
Corpral LeRoy Jones. --- 3949 forest Ave. Chicago. --- good looking negro & quite educated.
English nurse & Irish nurse here. English very pretty & Irish attractive.
(English) Miss C. Dawson Auto Cliev 7, B.C.M., Paris.
(Irish) Miss Acheson Enockboy Bronghshane, Co. Antrim, Ireland
11-21. Fine day. Played mandolin quite a lot.
11-22. Slept well last night. Temperature 36.8
Stayed in bed all morning. Becoming terribly lazy. Darkey had me write his sergeant to tell him where he is. Said he was too nervous to write!!
Gave Dutchy my extra dirty shirt and a pair of heavy socks.
Expect to leave by sanitary train for Paris. American hospital about Sunday.
Have learned a good prayer by heart. It helps a lot.
11-23. Slept rather well. Nurse comes in with news the sanitary train is here; but the doctor says I can't go! I am well enough, he says, but my hospital billet was not sent in. Now I won't get out of here 'till Wednesday.,
LeRoy went at one P.M. He promised to send me cigarettes from Paris.
I take a little walk --- without orders. Run across three 606 men who are doing revitalliment work with their cars. Could bum but one cigarette. Rather weak --- I am surprised. Go to bed 'till 3:30.
11-24. Slept well last night. Bought cigarettes from the hospital vender.
Backhaus, the Bosche, sick --- tells me they had only 14 days permission in a year and a half. He is a mechanic & thinks his trade is gone "bluey" now an auto mechanic.
Fine day. I have hot water to wash in every day. Thank heavens I brought my toilett kit.
Backhous also says the German troupes always had three or more weeks in line and only one week repos.
They have to salute even corporals and address them as Messour Corporal!
If a button was loose on one of their coats --- three days in prison! If his cask was on crooked --- two hours exercise!
But his home town, Colon, had its theatres, amusements ect. Still running even to the last.
11-25. Expect to go tomorrow. Raining today.
11-26. Up & shaved by 8 o'clock --- but not train. Almost wept. Dr. says the train will sure be here tomorrow. If not, I'll run away & catch the permission train at 4 A.M. Jeudi.
Darn, I hate being closed up here.
Raining today. Rather cold.
Played several pieces a Frog heard at Luna Park, Paris. "Broken Doll".
11-27. Said good buy to Backhous & he wished me luck.
Left at noon for the station. Train didn't start 'till 3 o'clock. Three American Negros in same compartment. 2nd classe.
Had 5 spoonfulls macaroni for diner on train!
Couldn't sleep because compartment too crowded.
Rain all night.
Arrived at Meaux about 9 A.M. Walked to hospital.
Took a walk near hospital & bought biscuits, butter, chocolate & cognac.
Dr. says he'll let me go tomorrow
Still raining. --- anything can be purchased here --- tho' expensive.
11-29. Up & shaved at 9 A.M.
Guards at hospital (French) will not let me out!
Well, I go this afternoon at 4 bells!
Damn! Sent to La Bourget to find the whereabouts of 641. But they know nothing about it there. --- So am sent to Paris, arriving at 11:30 P.M.
Go immediately to 21 rue Raynourd. Got bed in Chalet.
11-30. Go to 137 Blvd. L'Hopital & obtain pass & transportation to Laon for tomorrow morning at 6:30.
Find Mrs. MacDonald & tell her I am felling low --- she puts me in infirmary!
December 1,2. No entries.
12-3. Arose early for breakfast in order to catch Major Whitney & ask for a pass.
Missed him however.
Drizzling out so I stayed in all day. Read "Wild Olive" & wrote home once more.
Am not sick in the least but will try to stay here indefinitely. Lt. Spears payed me for two months.
December 4. No entry.
|Samuel "Kep" Keplinger has just been released from a hospital near Paris and has arranged for transportation to return to his unit.|
12-6. Leave at 8 A.M. with the Lt. [Speers] for C. Thierry. He gets me in second class on the Paris --- Nancy express.
Arrive about 9:30 and walk the whole length & breadth of the city --- expecting to find the section gone. But they are still here.
Great to be with the section again --- tho there has been much scrapping since Pierrefond! In the absents of the Lt. & top sergeant --- at P. --- the section ran wild, obeyed no orders & took frequent joy rides.
Wash hands after eating a greasy lunch! Have been eating to highly at 21.
12-7. Feeling ill --- already. Stomach, back & head all ache.
Stay in bed. Lt. comes in to see me at "Country Club" --- headquarters of the Riot Club. Takes interest in my case & asks if there is anything he can do. If I believed in man love, he'd be the one I loved the most.
Feeling worse. Damn the luck. Am I going to be sick all my life? Must cut down my smokes & eating between meals.
Max advises me to go back to a hospital in Paris --- but in that case I may be sent home --- nothing doing.
12-8. Feeling better but not real well --- still weak. We start this afternoon at three for God knows where. At least in the general direction of Epernay.
Chateau Thierry is not destroyed so very much. Owners of destroyed property blame the Americans. A bridge which took 7 years to build was blown up to hold the Bosche back --- the Americans were blamed --- people thought it unnecessary. But owners of property escaping damage hold the Americans as saviors.
Leave at 3 P.M. & arrive at Pischney --- a farm --- before dinner.
12-9. There is nothing special to write here but wish only to put the names of towns down --- those in which we stay and pass thru.
After an early lunch we start for Chene la Reine arriving early in the afternoon. Small ville containing no stores --- not even beer, wine or eggs.
Passed thru Comblizy, Nesle le Repons, Festigny les Hameaux, Leuvrigny & Cheine la Reine.
Raining hard & slightly cold. "Flu" weather.
12-10. Way Spaulding & I go on special duty at 6:30 to Oeuilly. Every morning two cars go to a central point of the division to evacuate any maladies.
Rejoin the section at 9:30 --- no maladies.
Start for Pierry --- just south of Epernay and a suburb.
Passed thru Mareuil & took main road to Epernay.
Receiving quite a few letters lately. Mother & Ted Moore & Mr. Smiley.
Write home from the foyer in Soldat here.
12-11. In Pierry for two days. The division is going on foot so it is necessary to rest one day in three.
Still raining. Got a pass for Epernay 12 M to 9 P.M. The city is a little livelier than Chateau Thierry & only a few places destroyed by bombs. The church, which looks new is nearly entirely demolished.
Have dinner with Morris Paul (Brookline), Ben Weeden & "Spud".
Expenses 20 francs apiece but we had some famous "Epernay extra dry --- 1911" costing 30 francs.
December 12. No entry.
12-13. Mixed in dates somewhere --- doesn't matter
Leave Pierry for Flavigny.
Passed thru Cuis, Cramont, turned left at Avize & reached Flavigny about 2 P.M.
12-14. Left for Trecon. Passed thru le Mesnil-sur-Oger --- direction Fère Champenoise, then thru Vertus & bearing left to the Paris --- Chalons route & direct to Trecon.
A small ville of 72 inhabitants.
Here, I rec'd letter from Jo Heathcote explaining package coming thru Felix Potin. God bless her.
12-15. Leave for Faux-sur-Coole.
Passed thru Villeseneux, north, (direction a Sedan) turned right to Soudron, Vatry, Bussy-Lettrie, Dommartin-Lettrie, Fontune-sur-Coole & finally Faux-sur-Coole.
Here for two days.
12-16. Rained hard & spoiled inspection of cars --- Thank heaven.
Go to Huiron tomorrow. South-west of Vitry --- about 6 kilometres.
12-17. Bunch go into Vitry-le-Francois in camion. Foxy & I were late for roll call the other day so we forced to stay in camp on duty.
Have a call to Vitry about sept heures.
Fine moonlight night.
12-18. Move to Orconte. Passed thru Vitry on road (main) to St Dizier. Turned right about half way.
12-20. Passed thru St Dizier --- Ancerville
12-22. North (one K) of Ligny-en-Barrois. - Velaines
12-23. Vilaines --- Gang went to Bar-le-Duc in White
12-24. Mesnil-la-Horgne. Passed thru Ligny en route. First snow of the year. Very slight
12-25. Nothing extra for dinner. No turkey --- tho they could have been bought in Bar-le-Duc. Salmon Salad --- Sardines --- Wine (Bordeaux red & white) St. Emilion ect. Steak, French fries & peas. Pudding --- Bread & apple & cheese, Nuts, Cigars, Cigarettes, Coffee, Beer.
12-29. No entry.
12-31. Ancerville (French) = Anserrveiler (German) --- Two days.
The first of January (1919) to Bolchen or Boulay our destination.
Boulay to Saarlouis January tenth .
|These were the last entries in Samuel Miller Keplinger's diary of 1918. So far there have been no other documents about what happened after.|
[From a book of Harry Crosby's letters it was indicated that the unit was part of an army of occupation in Saarlouis, Germany until near the end of February 1919. A cable from Crosby to his family dated March 4, 1919 indicated "Section in Paris homeward bound."]
|None of the German maps included this area. This map was downloaded from MapQuest. The towns named in the text boxes were added to reflect the names mentioned in the December 31, 1918 diary entry.|
AMERICAN FIELD SERVICE SHOULDER PATCH
AMERICAN ARMY SERGENT
SMK Jr. "A Puce Café is a rum drink made with different colored rums that are of different densities. Carefully poured into the glass the drink is of different colored stripes. We threw the bartender out of the bar when he couldn't make one that was red, white and blue."
SMK Jr. "We asked the taxi driver to take us to a place where we could take a bath. Spelled bain in French, it sounded like "baa" (like a short sheep or goat bleat). He didn't seem to understand our French. Baa, Baa we kept saying, louder and louder as if that would make him understand but the results were the same, he didn't understand. We started using charades and finally he said "Oooh --- Baa". He pronounce it just like we had been."
SMK Jr. "When we approached the crossroads that the Germans shelled frequently, we waited until there was a pause in the shelling and then gunned the ambulance across the crossroads."
SMK Jr. "There was a shell crater in the road. From experience we knew we couldn't make it out the other side if we tried to cross. We placed the walking wounded that we were carrying at the bottom of the crater and they pushed us out the other side of the crater."
SMK Jr. "We walked into this town that we thought had just been taken from the Germans when gunfire rang out. We ran very quickly and flew over a protective wall behind which were our buddies. They laughed very hard at our antics."
(Told by Walter J. Keplinger, SMK's grandson) He was somewhere in France during the war. He had just picked up a wounded Hun at an aid station. Somehow during the trip back, he had to stop and the guards left him alone with the guy. He was checking out the dressing and the Hun was trying to strike up some conversation. They got as far as names and the German was amazed that the French had an American Ambulance driver with a German name. The guards came back about then and the conversation was cut short. Grandpa said he never talked to another prisoner after that. He just said that he was constantly amazed at man's brutality to man.
(Told by MMK) I had several times looked at the Dad's photo albums of WWI pictures. One picture was of Max Rose standing in front of a post. Dad said that Max was dead drunk and stood there in that pose all day. Sometime after WWII, Max Rose and his wife came to Compton to visit and precocious Keppy (MMK) got out the picture album to show Max. He remembered and laughed. Hearing the laughter, his wife came out of the kitchen, "What are you laughing at?" she asked. He wouldn't tell her.
(Told by Walter J. Keplinger, SMK's grandson) He and his friend were on leave and pretty snooked. Grandpa had a camera. He took several pictures of his friend and had several taken of him. One day, many years later a young child (you) (Miller M. Keplinger) handed that friend the photo album, asking about the pictures. All you got was a smile. Later, while you were sleeping, your dad and the friend went down memory lane, both good and bad. Both got snooked again, much to your mom's chagrin. This story was related to me when I visited him on my "tour" of California in 1980.
(Told by Robert M. Keplinger, SMK's grandson) SMK and another fellow found a cache of German dress helmets for school boys. They would take one helmet and walk down a street with it under their arm. Invariably, someone would stop and ask if they would sell it. After indicating it was a really special find, they would "break down" and sell the helmet. Then they would go back to the cache and get another helmet.
The book "WAR LETTERS --- Henry Grew Crosby" from which some quotations have been taken, was published by The Black Sun Press, Rue Cardinale, Paris (France) 1932. Mrs. S.V.R. (Henrietta M.) Crosby (Harry's Mother) commissioned the printing of 125 copies for private distribution. Henry Crosby was called Harry, even by his Mother.
Harry Crosby and his wife Caresse established The Black Sun Press in order to publish, among other works, his own poetry.
A biography of Harry Crosby, "BLACK SUN --- The Brief Transit and Violent Eclipse of Harry Crosby" was written by Geoffrey Wolff in 1976 published by Random House and reissued in 2003 by the New York Review Books.